Friday, June 22, 2007

Auto-Future Car of the Year 2007: Audi R8

We know, it’s June. But we awarded our Concept Car of the Year 2007 back in January to the Chevrolet Volt. Because we know no other concept car in 2007 will be as important as the Volt. And now we know that no other production car will be so significant in 2007 as the Audi R8, hence the award.

Arguably this prize is not such a bold statement. Because it’s easy to predict what production cars are available in 2007 (unlike concepts that are usually surprises), because we knew long ago the Audi R8 would be a great car, and also because the best car magazine in the world (EVO) just compared it to the 911 4CS and stated: New Order. The 911 is no longer the best sportscar of the world (it has been since the 70’s). The Audi R8 is, according to EVO, the best sportscar of the planet. And this statement is historic.

Moreover, while reading the magazine we learn that the R8 is not only hugely competent, real-world comfortable, has fantastic handling, brilliant quality, but also very fast on the track. The magazine compared laptimes with other exotics and the Audi R8 proved faster than the 911 4CS,…911 Turbo(997);…GT3(997);…F430!!!! Wait, we just can’t believe, faster on track than a F430? We are going to be a bit more bold in our predictions. We award the Audi R8 Sportscar of the Decade. Yes, of the decade!

PS1: before the readers of this joint start accusing Auto-Future of fanboysh behaviour we would like to state that we are well aware that most of regular Audis are nose-heavy overpriced VW derivatives. And the cheaper ones are the same as Seat models but with more tactile plastics. We know their marketing machine is great and that all the perceived quality does not translate to real-world quality and reliability. And we don’t really compare their cars with Mercedes, because if one can afford Mercedes, BMW or Lexus then Audi is just out of the equation. But let’s be fair, the RS4 is great and deserves to be compared with the best and this R8 is just that: the best sportscar of the planet.

PS2: now that Porsche owns about 35% of VW group we wonder if the R8 would even exist if Porsche owned 35% of the company when Audi decided to build it… And what about the future of the R8, its derivatives, its successor… an evolutionary icon like the 911?... with Porsche owning so much of the company?… Predicting the future is fun!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

2007 Citroen C5

A nice picture of the new C5 that shows an elegant design. Although something is strange here, the car doesn't look French, it looks too Germanic. But wait, yes there are the weird mirrors for that French weirdness touch. Was just wondering on a thing: when developing stories on the Laguna we were bitching about the windows being too big and now we bitch about this car being too Teutonic. Is it a good idea for French manufacturers to emulate Germanic design features or should they develop their own identity? The new Laguna III and the Peugeot 308 are what we could call "proudly French designs". We will see how these cars and the C5 do in the market for a conclusion.

Brilliance crash-test

Some people have been asking why is taking so long to Chinese manufacturers start selling in Europe. Part of the answer is in a crash-test that ADAC did on a big saloon from Chinese manufacturer Brilliance, the BS6. Yes we Europeans have though safety standards and the Chinese seem to have very soft steel in their cars. At least now we know what BS means in Brilliance's BS6!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The road to EV future: Mitsubishi i MiEV testing

Mitsubishi continues testing the iMiEV this time delivering cars to Chugoku Electric Power Co. thus joining a fleet of cars already in test at Tokyo Electric Co. Well, do we have to establish an electric company to buy or lease one of these cars? Hopefully by 2010 Mitsubishi will have the car ready for series production but for now they are engaged in a race with Subaru for the launch of the first real-life-EV.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The road to EV future: Siemens VDO eCorner Project

One of the key changes with electric cars will be on vehicle architecture, mainly if in-wheel electric motors are used. A major auto supplier is developing just that in an integrated system that also includes active suspension and steering. And a big name like Siemens-VDO does not engage in such project if they don't predict series production in a (hopefully) near future.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Autozeitung's BMW supercar

German magazine Autozeitung has been dreaming about a BMW supercar. Something mid-engined or front engined with lots of power and relatively light to fight the likes of the SLR and/or Audi R8. Many people dream of such car, however, Autozeitung not only dreams about it but also makes CGIs and magazine articles on the car. Unfortunately, such thing will not exist. What a pity and what a waste of magazine paper and resources! We will have (that is, the lucky folks with enough cash) high powered 4-door coupe and coupe-roadster BMW models but nothing specifically addressed at a supercar war. More like GTs to fight several Mercedes-AMG equivalents. Still, here is one pic of Autozeitung so let's share their dreams for a while and then go back to the real life!

North American Scum

A North-American car story featuring George W. Bush and his Cadillac. Nothing about the future today, just good fun. As seen on the hollywoodextra blog and featuring here the words from LCD Soundsystem:

oh I don't know, I don't know, oh, where to begin
when we're north american
but in the end we make the same mistakes all over again
come on north americans

we are north american scum
we’re from north america

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

System and method to control the steering of the rear wheels of a motor vehicle with four-wheel steering

Method and system for controlling steered rear-wheel steering, and corresponding vehicle

Method for controlling a vehicle having four-wheel steering with the aid of an individual wheel braking device

Rear wheel steering angle control system and method and corresponding vehicle

Steering control for the rear wheels of a motor vehicle and an asymmetrical adherence braking situation

Searching for patents is fun. Well, maybe not fun, more like interesting or enjoyable… or …bearable, err… no, it’s hideous. But one can find important information, like the titles above that are all from patents issued this and last year by… Renault. Oui, Renault! The text of the patents is in French language and it starts like:

La présente invention concerne les véhicules automobiles à quatre roues directrices, et plus particulièrement la commande de braquage des roues arrière directrices.
De façon classique, les véhicules automobiles sont pourvus d'un châssis, d'un habitacle, et de roues reliées au châssis par un mécanisme de suspension avec des roues avant directrices commandées par un volant à la disposition du conducteur dans l'habitacle du véhicule. Les véhicules à quatre roues directrices possèdent, en outre, des roues arrière directrices commandées par un mécanisme adapté.
Le document GB 2 252 538 A (Honda) décrit un pilotage de roues arrière d'un véhicule automobile à quatre roues directrices pour obtenir une bonne et douce réaction en lacet pour une large gamme d'accélération. On détecte l'accélération latérale du véhicule et l'angle de braquage des roues avant, et on détermine un rapport final de l'angle de braquage des roues arrière sur l'angle de braquage des roues avant en fonction de l'accélération latérale. On détermine un angle cible de braquage des roues arrière à partir de ce rapport final, et on tourne les roues arrière pour atteindre cet angle cible. On détermine le ratio final de manière à ce que le gain éphémère d'amplitude du mouvement de lacet soit positif tant que l'accélération latérale est inférieure à une valeur prédéterminée.

And then goes on and on with lots of info on sensors and stuff. I thought of reading it all and explain to you readers of this blog but instead decided to search the internet for porn. You are lucky to get the image below. Still, with all the interesting stuff Renault is working in, another title would be more appropriate for their inventions:

Method and system for making competitors obsolete

Monday, June 11, 2007

A bumper image

An image of the rear bumper of a new small car from an Iberian car brand... I think, might be wrong, and don't want to really voice it loud in case I'm right. You know, keeping out of trouble. You, the reader, please guess what car this belongs to...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Fiat Bravo-based compact MPV

A couple of CGIs have surfaced regarding a MPV version of the Fiat Bravo. Regardless of its accuracy one has two things granted: One, it will look better than the Multipla. Two, even if it's not for real it should be. Fiat should really build such car (and also a Lancia derivative) because the compact MPV is a very important sefment in Europe. Anything that takes clues in engineering and packaging from a Scénic or C-Max will be just fine.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The road to EV future: GM E-flex is for real!

GM just announced today that two development contracts were awarded for battery technology related to the E-Flex electric architecture that will underpin the Chevrolet Volt. One contract will go to lithium-ion battery supplier CPI-Compact Power, Inc. that is a subsidiary of Korean battery manufacturer LG Chem. A second contract has been awarded to Frankfurt, Germany-based Continental Automotive Systems, a division of Continental A.G., a tier one automotive supplier that will develop lithium-ion battery packs. GM also stated that will continue to assess other solutions to quickly bring lithium-ion batteries to production. The two companies will be acting as the battery systems integrators for the E-flex program. Continental will be using lithium ion cells provided by A123 Systems while Compact Power is using LG Chem cells. During the course of the one year contracts the two integrators will supply complete energy storage systems including thermal and charge management for the production development of vehicles based on the new E-Flex platform that is the basis of the Volt.
The Chevrolet Volt was awarded by auto-future "Concept Car of the Year", back in January. Yes, at the beginning of the year, just to show how we believe this concept is important! Hopefully, in 2 to 3 years we will be awarding the production version of the Volt Car of the Year. Hopefully, because if you noticed that the word "development" above was highlighted in bold, this means that these are not production contracts yet.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The road to EV future: photovoltaic

Part of the necessary evolution for future Electric Vehicles is related to batteries. But of course, another important issue is generating electricity from renewable sources. Recently scientists from a Boeing subsidiary (Spectrolab) claimed to have developed a new type of photovoltaic cell that has surpassed an energy conversion efficiency of 40% for the first time. Instead of the usual single-junction silicon cells, Spectrolab scientists have fabricated multi-junction cells with advantage in absorbing more of the frequencies that are available in sunlight. Developments in photovoltaic cells have been regularly in the news and as soon as this and other companies (many located in Silicon Valley) start dealing with development and cost reduction we will have confidence in the availability of cost-effective solar energy for charging auto batteries.